Facilitating Sustainable Virtual PD

Whether teachers are instructing entirely online, face-to-face, or in a hybrid capacity, the one constant this school year will be instructional technology.
Even in a classroom setting, health guidelines will dictate that students not sit side-by-side sharing math manipulatives, creating posters, or handling science lab equipment. Instead, students will be collaborating through online platforms and may even be interacting asynchronously through tools such as Google Jamboard or Flipgrid.
Here’s the good news: you can do it!
After a summer of facilitating online professional development for educators across the U.S., Canada, and in international schools, I have learned that figuring out online teaching tools is akin to the language learning experience itself. With enough practice, you gain confidence, proficiency, and get to interact with people you otherwise might not meet at home.
Fortunately for educators of linguistically and culturally diverse students, students can practice and apply all four language domains—reading, writing, listening, and speaking–using online technology.
On the other hand, many aspects of online learning and instruction also have heightened linguistic demands, for both students and educators.
What we have here is an idea for effective professional development that models how to meet these challenges in the classroom and leverage the online tools to create effective and engaging PD that will be sustained beyond the current global pandemic we are facing.
Just as for online student instruction, the core principles of effective PD remain the same in the virtual environment.
We have modified these standards for your online and hybrid model learning environments:
Standard 1: Professional Development is Research-Based Content Driven and Relevant
Online PD facilitators should:include research on virtual instruction and learning for multilingual learnershighlight research on multilingual learners’ access to technology and online learning skillsshare research-based online tools and resources that teachers can directly apply with studentsdraw on research on interrupted schooling, social-emotional health, and resiliencemodel a variety of online tools to enable students to practice and apply reading, writing, listening, and speaking skillsStandard 2: Professional Development is Meaningful and Intellectually Stimulating
Online PD facilitators should:Provide opportunities for collaboration and engaging activitiesModel digital learning tools, particularly those that teachers will use directly with studentsalign to district technology plans and subscriptionsProvide opportunities to create materials, lesson plans, and modify virtual tools during PD sessionsinclude bridges for educators to connect virtual instruction to any potential face-to-face instruction and vice versainclude step-by-step instructionselect and implement in-depth online tools, using all the functionality possibleallow time for practice and application with tech, so that teachers are confident with the toolsStandard 3: Professional Development is Engaging, Interactive, and Collaborative
Online PD facilitators should:provide opportunities for online collaboration and discussion with colleaguescreate activities that are interactive and appealing through an online formatallow for moderated and non-moderated discussions with colleaguespromote virtual follow-ups after synchronous workshopsfoster communication through discussion boards, blog posts, shared lesson plans, and write-up of practices and materialsStandard 4:  Professional Development is Well Organized and Facilitated
Online PD facilitators should:develop and assign roles and checklists of tasksfamiliarize themselves with the online platform’s functionalityhave test runs and back-up plans!list and provide all required materials needed for online workshops give and what needs to be printedInclude a handout with links/area for teachers to add in login/password info for any new platforms used in PDStandard 5:  Professional Development is Positively Framed, Respectful, and Inclusive
Online PD facilitators should:use online images that reflect diversityprovide additional wait time to allow more voices on both the chat box and sharing outexpress grace for the uniquely stressful times of a global pandemichave patience with their own wifi, technology and the tech access of individual’s homesBe patient with the tech skills of participants–also model how to be patient with studentscreate norms around netiquette for respectful online conversationmodel and provide modifications for various levels of virtual access (i.e., recordings of sessions, off-line/low-tech alternatives, only using phone etc.)have an IT rep or designated co-facilitator to help with tech questions or issues that ariseStandard 6: Professional Development is Supportive of Future Learning and Growth
Online PD facilitators should:offer online coaching, guided practice, lesson study and other job-embedded PDmodel working in a blended and online only environmentprovide resources for best practices with online learningreference modifications for face-to-face, asynchronous or synchronous instruction as circumstances change during the next yearprovide ongoing opportunities to explore and showcase different platforms, apps, and technology with colleaguesThese standards were adapted from the Center for Applied Linguistics’ previously published Six Standards of Effective, Engaging, and Sustained Professional Development for Educators of Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Students.
Annie Laurie Duguay is the director of Language and Literacy at the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC, where she has participated in research projects and led the PreK-12 English Learner Professional Development area. She has taught EFL/ESL in France, China, and in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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